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neworlsailer 10-13-2003 08:30 PM

mogan nelson/marek 454cb
I am being directed by a broker toward a 1983 morgan 45 nelson/marek design (with centerboard) as a comfortable below (for the wife) and fast (for me) cruising boat able to handle offshore conditions. It looks great on paper and the price is a strech, but doable. I am skeptical, however, because...well, after all it is a "Morgan."
Any thoughts to share on this model?

Jeff_H 10-14-2003 03:40 AM

mogan nelson/marek 454cb
These are complicated boats to classify. The design began as an out and out IOR race boat. The prototypes were stripped out deep keel, light weight IOR era boats. They were offered in a variety of configurations from full blown racer to the cruising version with a centerboard that you are looking at.

The cruising version varied quite a bit from the racer, having a full and heavier interior and less sail area, more weight, less draft and less ballast (although I have seen the ballast number published with the CB model with more ballast so I am not sure about that one).

The cruising interior is a reasonably nice layout with some nice features which comes at the price of a wide walk over bridge deck that many people would consider a bad idea for offshore work. The stock interior was nicely finished but a little dark and poorly ventilated. Most of the CB boats have good tankage and storage. They early 454''s and all race models came with port and starboard seaberths. These were converted to storage on later boats. The sharply raked transom makes dinghy handling and docking a bit tricky.

The sailing ability of boats are a mixed bag as well. They have the bagage typical IOR boats of their era. They are not terribly stable, the flat at the bow pounds when beating into a chop, the tend to roll a lot downwind, and have that roll and lurch typical of the IOR boats of that era. For a cruising boat they are moderately fast. Their PHRF rating is a little misleading in that the have pretty good downwind speed with the centerboard up and the full spinacker flying. Like most IOR boats of this era the 454 has a comparatively small and high aspect ratio mainsail depends heavily on very large foresails. To get a reasonable performance in light air, and safe heavy weather capabilities 454''s really need a pretty large sail inventory (4 jibs [storm, #3, #2,#1]and a spinacker) for offshore work. The spinnakers on these boats are huge and really do not lend themselves to being shorthanded. Without the huge racing spinackers these boats are quite slow downwind and would rate substanially higher. In addition these boats have really bad seakindliness dead down wind, rolling pretty wildly, expecially with a chute flying. Because of the big headsails, these are a boat that requires a strong and athletic crew to take advantage of the speed potential of these boats. One thing that would be a deal killer for me on these particular boats would be a cabintop mounted traveller.

As to whether these are offshore boats, that is a hard question. In some ways they are very good offshore boats and many of them have done the islands and Atlantic routes. On the other hand the hull form, cockpit size, and rig are less than ideal. The build quality seems to be quite good as compared to the ''normal'' Morgans.

Good luck,

neworlsailer 10-14-2003 04:51 PM

mogan nelson/marek 454cb

Thanks so much for your very excellent and thorough review. I had no idea I would get such insightful (and instant) input.

As a 51 year old spring chicken I can''t help but be concerned at times about the long-term ability to handle the foredeck work...especially since much of the time it will be just me while my wife drives. This particular boat has a 150% genoa and a 110% genoa, both of which are cut for roller furling with foam luff pads, which I think will be a huge help in this department. YOUR THOUGHTS?

Also on board are an asymetrical cruising spinaker (with sock) and a hanked on storm jib.

I''m probably more concerned about the ride, as you so fully developed. I''m afraid my wife would be hurling on the downhill runs.

I''m still very know how it is when you have a boat this beautiful in your sights at long last. I promise to keep an open mind though.

Thanks again

Jeff_H 10-14-2003 05:52 PM

mogan nelson/marek 454cb
The 150% jib would be a huge sail on a 454. With a foam luff it can be reefed down to perhaps a 140% genoa and still hold some shape for a short time. Even reefed to 140% this is a very big sail. Over time, even with a foam luff the leech and foot will creep toward each other and power up the sail, so roller furling in heavy air is at best a temporary solution. 110% jibs are generally nice sails to handle as they do not hang up on the shrouds during a tack. On a boat with a rig proportioned like the 454 a 100% jib would not have a very wide wind range and would perhaps come into its own in winds over something like 15 or so knots.

As a pretty physically fit, 53 year old, these are bigger sails than I would want to handle by myself. My best advise is to try to get a sail on the boat and single hand a couple back to back tacks a few minutes apart to see if that grinds you down. These are pretty big boats with really big jibs. I think you will quickly figure out whether this is too much for you to want to mess with at least without the expense, maintanance and complication of power winches.

You will probably use the spinacker a lot as this rig proportion tends to be a real slug deep reaching or downwind without a spinacker.



neworlsailer 10-14-2003 06:49 PM

mogan nelson/marek 454cb

thanks again...

any personal favorites you would recommend?

.... again, comfortable below for the wife and fast for me, coastal cruiser with some offshore capabilities?
in the 38-45 foot range and used less than...say $120,000

(might as well prospect for a little more info since you are so knowledgeable).

jparker11 10-15-2003 09:50 AM

mogan nelson/marek 454cb

I am sure Jeff will bounce in here with one of his multi-page epistles with a dizzying amount of good information. But to inject a some fresh meat into the subject matter, your prerequistites of size, capability and money points to one of my favorite boats, Robert Perry designed Nordic 40 or 44.

I must confess, I am a little biased by the fact that nearly all of the West coast delivered Nordics were commissioned in an adjacent slip in the late 80''s. I would literally slobber over them in the six to eight weeks it took to complete this process. The hulls were laid up by the same family that built Uniflite yachts in years prior(read - "built like brick !@#$houses)". In the passing decade and a half, most of these boats have gone extensively offshore and acquitted themselves well as cruisers and racers.

The only drawback would be the draft for thin water cruising on the East coast.

They don''t grow on trees in the re-sale market and seem to go fast when available, for premium prices. And you don''t see many of them on the right coast. Most were purchased as semi-custom yachts by discriminating owners and have had many more $$$ put in upgrades than they sell for these days.

These semi-customs of the ''80''s seem like better value than high production/charter boats the same era IMHO.

paulmcquillan 10-15-2003 09:14 PM

mogan nelson/marek 454cb
I also think the Nordic 44 is a very sweet design. You sure can see Robert Perry''s hand in both the galley design and the way she sails.

When we were looking for a boat, one of my semi-serious design criteria was "go fast and take my refrigerator too."

svphantom 11-10-2003 04:25 AM

mogan nelson/marek 454cb
Hope I''m not out of line in replying here, but we have a Nordic 44 we are preparing to put up for sale. She is one of a very few built with a shoal draft(6''). She is in excellent condition and fully equipped for offshore cruising.

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